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JADAV Lagos Traffic Wardens

Another true tale of my time in Nigeria. Now I wish I’d either recorded or video’d the conversation. Looking back at it, it was hilarious! Get comfortable, maybe get a cuppa and let me gist you!!

In case you’re wondering about the meaning of the acronym in my title, it means Junior Assistant Deputy Apprentice Vice, JAVAD for short! Lol . . . Because I have no idea what government body they represented.

So here I was, finally in my Taxify (similar to Uber) ride, after I had cancelled two previous bookings because the drivers were claiming they were on their way but it looked like they were using the mirror images of their own maps! How else can I explain their cars moving in the opposite direction on the app and/or not making any progress!

We initially missed our way because thanks to the unstructured street naming ceremonies in Lagos, there can be two streets, with the same name, within a stone throw from each other! With the end in sight, less than 100 m, about to cross a busy junction to our final destination . . .

Lo and behold! Some men in blue appeared and stopped us. Well we stopped. They said we’d just driven one way, that is, against traffic and the following conversation ensued.

Me: Oh sorry. We’ll turn back now. We were just following Google Maps.

Them: No oh. We are not here to allow you contravene the law.

Driver: Oga, we were using the maps and it never directs us to go one way.

Them: Oga Uber, you dey talk. You suppose know road. (They also pointed back to show us the behind of the sign.)

Me: (looking backwards) Okay, can we reverse so that we can see the sign?

Them: No reverse your car oh! (At this point one of them had put a rod with spikes at the back of the right front tyre to prevent us from reversing.)

Me: Okay, so what do we do?

Them: Open the door, let’s come in. We have to go to the office to pay the fine.

Me: Driver, don’t open the door oh. (To them,) sir, please where’s the office? I’m happy to go and pay the fine.

Them, pointing ahead to the right as their headquarters, then to the left as another office.

Them: Open the door na.

Me: Sir, I’m sorry but I don’t feel safe with you in this car. (He then proceeded to display his badge of honour aka ID card. But with the way ID cards are easily made, that meant nothing to yours truly.)

Me: I’m happy to pay for you to take an okada (motorcycle) and we’ll follow you there. But I can’t let you in this car.

(By the way, we were talking through a 2-inch gap in the slightly wound-down passenger seat window.)

Them: You no get respect? At least, respect my grey hair.

Me: Sir, I think I’ve been very respectful. Okay, if you don’t want to enter okada, you can use that taxi (there was one just next to us) and I’ll pay for it. But you’re not coming inside this car. (At this point, I got on the phone to call my aunt who I was going to visit but she wasn’t picking! How timely!! Lol . . .)

Well, since we were plunk in the middle of the road having this 10-15 minute conversation, we were spoiling business for them. They were obviously looking for bribes and I didn’t travel to Lagos to distribute the Queen’s wealth just because some guys were in blue polo shirts! Me too, I have blue. polo. t-shirt!

We were blocking traffic and reducing their hourly income. They eventually had to let us go! But not without this heartfelt admonition:


I took it and then threw it out the window of victory!!

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